Modernizing Mapping Operations in Kenya

While economies across the globe have staggered in recent years, Africa has seen a rapid growth. As recently as 2019, many African nations have seen an annual GDP increase of between 4 and 6 percent. In fact, over half of the top 15 fastest growing economies are credited to Africa.

Kenya is one such nation that expects a GDP growth of around 6 percent in the coming years, largely due to developments in telecommunications, transport, and construction, as well as a high level of technological literacy and innovation among the younger members of the society. As the populations of countries such as Kenya grow and become more technically proficient, their governments must keep up with the rapid pace. They must also update systems, processes, and tools to be more accurate, agile, and productive.

It sounds like a simple task, but it can be truly daunting and often needs a guiding hand. When Survey of Kenya sought to modernize their mapping operations, they sought out Hexagon’s Geospatial division’s partner Oakar Services.

An Honored History

The Department of Survey was established in 1903 and is responsible for the mapping needs for the entire country. As part of the Ministry of Lands and Physical Planning, the Department of Survey – also referred to as Survey of Kenya – employs approximately 1,500 personnel across five divisions: Geodetic and Geographical Information System (GIS) Mapping, Administration, Cadastral, Land Adjudication, and Hydrographic.

Survey of Kenya focuses on assisting the government with the establishment and maintenance of a national geodetic control network, registration of boundaries, adjudication of land, mapping of resources for exploitation or conservation, and hydrographic surveys in support of the shipping lines. They provide data to government bodies, universities, and research institutions to facilitate surveys and research as well as create maps for the general public to use.

Taking the Mapping Operations from Analog to Digital

Survey of Kenya needed to make a positive transition away from an outdated and time-consuming analog mode of producing and consuming geospatial data. Eager to modernize the operations in order to keep up with the demands from other departments within the Ministry of Lands, the government, and the general public, they began narrowing down their most critical requirements.

The powerful solutions they would implement needed to service two distinct needs. First, as with many national mapping agencies, Survey of Kenya manages terabytes of data that include constantly updated aerial photography, satellite imagery, LiDAR data, and vector data sets. They needed a way to securely store but efficiently locate all this data on an accessible database.

The solution was to implement ERDAS APOLLO, an online cataloging system that allows them the ability to store, classify, and quickly retrieve all of their data. It allows them the ability to perform spatial and metadata searches as well as deliver the data both through streaming and clip, zip, ship mechanisms. They are also able to make use of role-based permissions to manage access to the data.

Their second need was to modernize operations by implementing Digital Photogrammetry workstations with 3D support for almost 60 photogrammetrists. Using IMAGINE Photogrammetry and a number of its add-ons, as well as ERDAS IMAGINE, Survey of Kenya was able to convert from analog photogrammetric workstations to digital photogrammetric workstations to support fast data capture. Not only did this improve the accuracy of their operations, but it significantly increased their productivity and decreased the time required to respond to requests from other departments.

Success Through Partnership

Perhaps the most important factor in the rapid success of modernizing Survey of Kenya’s mapping operations was through partnership with Oakar Services, Hexagon’s Nairobi-based distributor. By teaming with a knowledgeable, dedicated, and local partner, Survey of Kenya gained strong confidence in their ability to quickly get up to speed with these drastic upgrades. Through their support, troubleshooting, and answers to technical queries, Survey of Kenya was able to confidently make the leap to a digital workflow.

“The key to our success was the partnership with local companies. Hexagon Geospatial and their partner Oakar Services made it easy for us to embrace this new technology. They helped us make the transition smoothly and continue to offer us world-class support.” – Cesare Mbaria, Director of Surveys

Since the implementation, Survey of Kenya has improved both the speed and convenience of their data production and exchange.

Hexagon and Oakar Services were happy to help Survey of Kenya succeed. They are now able to efficiently meet all mapping requirements for the sustainability of the country and are poised to expand this project in the future in order to keep up with the changing technology and their country’s demands.

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